It didn’t happen overnight, but old-style recycling—the kind that involves paper, plastic, metal, compost—is deeply enough embedded in our culture and our consciousness that most of us do it all the time. So here’s the question: if content is the most precious resource in our organizations’ hands, how long will it take before the New Three R’s become common practice?
It sure isn’t today.
In the meetings industry, where we’ve done the majority of our work over the last quarter-century, event organizers spend weeks, months, sometimes a year or more, putting together in-depth programs that bring together the latest knowledge in their fields. After three or four days onsite, the material is archived. Or even worse, it’s posted online in a series of 60-minute videos where you can relive hours of podium presentations in excruciating, verbatim detail.
The content itself is as compelling as when you first saw it on the program. But the format is tailor-made to drive audiences away, desperately searching for an opportunity to watch paint dry.
Too many organizations treat their non-conference content the same way, usually because they lacked the time to think out a content strategy or the resources to put it into action. They conduct surveys, produce research reports, or develop case studies that sit quietly on their websites once they’re launched.
Most organizations are stretched enough that they have to move on to the next big deadline as soon as they’ve finished a major piece of work. So their best stuff goes underused, their sponsors feel under-appreciated, and—most important—the organizations themselves miss out on the profile, connections, and impact that should flow to them if they’re doing good work.
The equal and opposite tragedy is that so much social media content consists of gossip, trivia, or blatant (and unwanted) self-promotion, much of it from sources that have so many more interesting things to say.
So here’s a rule of thumb for content creators: When it’s time to tell the rest of the world what you’ve been working on, once is (almost) never enough. Here’s what we mean by the New Three R’s:
- Repurpose: If you tweet the same message six times in eight hours, it’s called spam. If you resurrect and retweet a blog post that was popular six months ago and is still relevant today, that’s smart content strategy. If you haven’t had time to decide how to repurpose a three-year content archive, you’re in dire need of a week-by-week campaign plan and editorial calendar.
- Reformat: Remember that verbatim video from your conference? The format is fine for some specialized purposes, like continuing medical education. But different audiences will want to receive your content in different forms, at different levels of detail, for different reasons, at different times. Which means you can think of each piece of source material as fodder for a blog post, a series of tweets, a update, a post, an online photo gallery, and a downloadable resource.
- Redistribute: You’ll draw more attention and build a wider online community if you redistribute your content to a wider range of audiences. If an association has 300 participants at a conference session, 3,500 at the entire event, and 20,000 other members who never went onsite, which is the most important audience? If there are another 150,000 prospects who haven’t yet joined the organization, where’s the greatest growth potential? If they can’t find that organization’s content, they’re missing one of the best reasons to sign up.
If you have the in-house staffing to adopt the New Three R’s, it’s time to get on with it. If you need outside help, you should get some. Either way, it’s time for your organization to find its voice and get the best of its message out into the world.